Today's genuinely shocking WHO update has resonated at ScienceInsider: Nigeria's Ebola outbreak spreads. Excerpt:
The hopes that Nigeria’s Ebola outbreak could be quickly stamped out have evaporated. The World Health Organization (WHO) this afternoon issued its first detailed report of the spread of the virus in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub. Last week, authorities announced that a doctor there had died of the disease, after secretly treating a diplomat who had been infected in Lagos by a traveler from Liberia.
The doctor had close contact with family, friends, and health care workers during his illness, but he did not disclose his previous exposure to the virus. His infection wasn’t confirmed until 5 days after his death. Experts are now following 200 of the doctor’s contacts, 60 of which had “high-risk or very high-risk exposure,” WHO says.
The diplomat had been instructed to stay in Lagos in quarantine. Instead he flew to Port Harcourt, where he was treated--in a hotel room--by the doctor from 1 to 3 August. The diplomat survived and returned to Lagos, presenting himself again to health authorities, who confirmed he was no longer was infected. He did not tell them that he had sought treatment in Port Harcourt.
The doctor who treated him became ill on 11 August. He continued treating patients at his private clinic for two days, operating on at least two of them. Between 13 and 16 August, he was ill enough that he stayed home, but, according to the WHO report, he received multiple visitors who came to celebrate the birth of a baby. On 16 August, he was hospitalized. He did not tell doctors there that he had been exposed to Ebola.
The WHO report is grim: “During his 6 day period of hospitalization, he was attended by the majority of the hospital’s health care staff,” it says, and members of his church community visited and performed a healing ritual that apparently involved laying on of hands.
“On 21 August, he was taken to an ultrasound clinic, where 2 physicians performed an abdominal scan. He died the next day.”
It was not until 27 August that tests confirmed he was infected with Ebola.
We really need a careful study of the psychological effects of Ebola. Do the healthcare workers in the Ebola treatment units routinely see irrational behaviour in their patients? Or are we looking only at a few individuals disposed to panic when they sense they've been infected?